“A wall of horses before the favorite…English Channel will have to try to squeeze through on the inside…oh, it’s so tight! English Channel has just muscled his way to victory…”

Standing on the rail just before the winner’s circle, I couldn’t believe my eyes…or my ears. What a call by Durkin (read the wrong way, doesn’t it sound like a bad porno movie?), and what a move by John Velazquez. Watching, I physically recoiled as I saw him try to—and succeed in—taking English Channel through that tiny spot. Coming home to watch the TiVo’d ESPN coverage, I was struck by the amount of time Randy Moss and Jerry Bailey spent talking about how hard to handle the horse it…they even said that you can’t use the reins to guide him, because he just pulls against them, contrarian that he is. It made the move along the fence all the more marvelous because the horse apparently does not want to take direction, yet Velazquez got him through…or maybe it was the other way around?

I don’t know how much ESPN showed after the wire, but at Belmont you could see English Channel fighting Johnny V all the way to the turn, as if to say, “Let me go! Let…me….go!” I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a horse be that rank AFTER the wire.

The Turf Classic was probably the race of the day, though the Beldame and the Gold Cup were in themselves pretty spectacular. Todd Pletcher pulled off both a daily double (English Channel in the 8th, Unbridled Belle in the 9th) and an exacta (Unbridled Belle/Indian Vale) in the 9th. The double paid $23.80, the exacta $72, and fortunately I had half of that.

I teach high school English, and when I teach the practices of research, I drill into my students the need to cite their sources. Inevitably one asks, “What do I do if I get an idea first, and then read the same thing somewhere?” Cite it, I say, but in a way that makes clear that you came to the idea independently.

So: as Ed Fountaine similarly noted in today’s NY Post, The Cat’s Affair (right) ran a terrific race in the sixth yesterday; after coming out slowly and spotting the field at least a length, he had to be fifteen lengths back as they headed around the turn, and didn’t even get a call until about a furlong before the finish; he just turned it on and started picking off horses, going up the inside to get second and galloping out. He’s a two-year-old trained by Barclay Tagg and is by Tale of the Cat, same as Tagg’s great two-year-old Tale of Ekati. Once he figures out to get out of the gate, he should be dangerous.

In other cat horse news, Bobby Flay’s Catmosphere raced again yesterday after breaking his maiden a couple of weeks ago. Bobby Flay was there, and as he exited the paddock, a few of those paddock hecklers (I talked about them a week or so ago) called out, “Hey, Bobby, what’s for lunch?” A good sport, Flay looked up and answered, “I don’t know…what do you want?” About five people called out simultaneously, “A winner!” They’d have been better (bettor?) off placing an order from the menu, as Catmosphere finished fourth by a lot.

In other betting news, I ran into a friend who gallops horses for Steve Klesaris; he lives in New York and works at Fair Hill, and he was out at Belmont for the day with his daughter. He gave me two tips: I took the first one and shouldn’t have; I didn’t take the second and should have. Of course, right?

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